Using Sales Forecasts in Salesforce CRM

I refresh the 'Opportunity Pipeline' report in my Salesforce system at least twice per day. Like most business owners I am preoccupied with seeing if we're closing enough deals and creating enough new ones. We like to see what business we are winning, and what we need to close to turn a poor month into a good one, or better still, a good month into an excellent one.

Sales Forecasting is an interesting topic for any business. We spend so much time on these reports, but how much value can we really get from them? When we break down the variables that make up a sales opportunity report or forecast (sales value, close date, sales stage etc.), they are all informed guesses.

So how can we make this process more scientific and accurate?

Use historical data from Salesforce

In your CRM you can look over old sales opportunities to see how long it normally takes for an opportunity to close. There are some key ratios that you should consider, such as

  • Time in days from an opportunity opening to closing
  • Time in days to move through the sales stages (Prospecting, Developing, Closing, Closed Won)
  • How responsive your client base is to 'end of quarter' promotions
  • What percentage of deals in the 'Closing' stage actually convert to a sales order.

If you can understand these ratios in your business, then you can apply them logically to your sales forecast to add some realism to the predictions for sales and revenue.